An NHNE Special Report
By NHNE SwiftWing Reporter Sherry Stultz
June, 30, 1998
RED LION INN in Avebury
PC: The way I approach this thing is that I know in my heart something's going on. I knew from the first day when I saw a crop circle in 1990 and nothing's ever shaken that. You can tell me about hoaxers and you can try to prove or disprove it, but I just have a gut feeling that there is something special going on. I knew it was something very special and we had to let people in. I said to my husband, "It's like having Stonehenge on your land -- you've got to let people in."
SJS: Did your husband ever see crop circle as a child?
PC: There are people who say they saw small circles -- what they call fairy rings and things like that, but there's no documented evidence.
SJS: The first one was in 1990?
PC: The first one was on our land. And it was funny because about a week before, a local farmer had had his third one. And a couple of other people had had them and I said to my husband, "It's not fair. Everybody around here is getting crop circles." It's like keeping up with the Jones and about a week later we had the mother of them all.
SJS: What was it?
PC: We had the one that's on the Led Zeppelin album. We had the first pictogram in the world and when we saw what it was, I didn't realize how special it was. I didn't realize it was the first time-straight lines that had ever appeared in the world. I went home and I said to Tim, "We've got to tell somebody about this; it's important." So I started ringing people like the police and the citizen's advisory bureau, because I'd no idea who to tell. I rang the Ministry of Agriculture, and by sheer coincidence the woman who answered the phone was a crop circle fanatic and knew Colin Andrews' phone number and said tell Colin Andrews. So I rang him and he came over and went berserk because it was the first time-straight lines that had ever appeared.
It was the first pictogram in the world and in about 24 hours we had the world's press. And then its started: people arrived in the thousands. We naively put signs up:
"PLEASE VIEW THIS FORMATION FROM THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE ROAD."
Not only did they take the signs down, but they took the fence down. And after eight days of thousands of people arriving by the coach-load, trampling our crop and smoking in the field, we decided we had to do something about it, so we employed somebody to sit at the top of the field and say, "Please can you walk down this tram line and please can you not smoke." And because we paid this person to do this, we charged people a pound. And that's when we got blasted all over the papers because we were charging, but in fact people thanked us for charging because they said it's wonderful we can come here and pay a pound; if you were over 18 and under 65, you paid a pound. Children and old age people were free and it was literally just to pay the guy who was sitting there. In fact, we made a lot of money, but we sent some to charities and we saved some for ourselves. We also supported local charities and supported the Family Holiday's Association and various other things and people thanked us. They said it was wonderful: we can pay a pound and come here legitimately and we can meet lots of other people who know about crop circles. It was a carnival atmosphere. It was just a wonderful summer.
SJS: Did you feel anything strange the first time you went into a crop circle?
PC: No, I've never felt anything strange. I must be as sensitive as a brick; the only thing I've ever felt is that they were kind and benign and good.
SJS: Have you ever caught anybody on your land making one?
PC: No. We haven't. We once caught a load of people getting out of a van, but they were drunks, not hoaxers, but I know there have been people on our land making them; we've had lots of hoaxes on our land. Some very obvious ones and probably some not so very obvious ones.
SJS: How much money have you lost over the years from crop circle formations?
PC: It's hard to tell actually. Probably over all, we haven't lost any. The first year we made money on that crop circle, but then in 1991 or 1992 we had like fourteen formations and at least 10 of them were hoaxed, so that was a lot of damage. And as in 1990 with the big one we lost a lot of crop, because people literally trampled the crop. And last year we actually charged people to go in, but the year before we had the DNA, we didn't. So thousands of people again trampled over our crops and it was basically because there were two ways into the DNA formation and we just couldn't police it so we just let people go in and hoped for the best. But most people do respect the tram lines now because in the early days everybody was going looking for crop circles and we could have turned the whole thing into a three ring circus. We had people wanting to pay us money to have burger bars there and tea. And we said no this is a serious subject; we could have made a lot of money. Because people wanted to exploit it, which they could have done easily. All these people arriving wanting a cup of tea, a cake, a burger... we said no, it was a serious subject and yes people could sell things like books and souvenirs to do with crop circles.
We could have made more money, and the first year we did lose a hell of a lot of crop because of course the whole thing died out when there was the Doug and Dave Story, which for some reason everybody believed. People said, "Oh yeah, great. It's Doug and Dave, they're doing it," and the interest died down, which was wonderful because that left the people that were actually genuine.
SJS: So how many people watch your east field each summer?
PC: Oh, it's hundreds, if not thousands. I spend nights out there.
SJS: Seen any UFO's?
PC: If by UFO, you mean an unidentified flying object, yes. A few years ago I was riding my horse along the track through our fields and my horse stopped and I thought she was just being lazy and then I realized she was actually looking at something. And so I followed her gaze and I saw a dense black disk against a hedge just moving along and it blinked out after about three seconds and it was very similar to the thing that was videotaped by Steve Alexander in broad daylight. It's a small reflective object, going around a crop circle and it's been videotaped twice, seen many times, but only videoed twice as far as I know.
SJS: Were you scared?
PC: No, very excited. Thrilled to bits. What really thrilled me was when I started telling people I'd seen it; it had actually came out that somebody had seen it 10 days before and it was seen the year before in the same field. I had corroboration of what I was seeing. It was the blackest thing I'd ever seen; it wasn't craft or anything like that it was a smallish object. I would think it was about the size of a football.
SJS: What kind of fruitcake things have you heard people say about the crop formations that are completely regular agricultural phenomena?
PC: A couple of things: the black (appearance on the crop) which is probably a fungus; that's certainly one of them. And the other thing is often when they talk about these magically bent stalks, you've got to be very careful because it occurs naturally in nature, which I think a lot of researchers know. But if a stalk is damaged for some reason, it will regrow from the next node and you often see this in tram lines where you have tractors going on, they damage the stems. They knock them down and that stalk will then grow up from the next node. It will be a magically bent stalk in a sense and it will occur if stalk is knocked down and not damaged, it will regrow. But when you see hundreds of stalks doing that in a circle, then you know it's not an actual phenomena. But the odd one you've got to be wary of because it can occur naturally.
I think one of the most important signs is the bloom: it gets a yeasty deposit that you can sort of wipe off. Well we get that on wheat and barely in this country at certain times of the year, and you only have to touch it and it comes off. Now when you see a circle where all the bloom is in tact, you know that nobody's trodden on it. There's been no physical contact. It's very important. I've seen footprints in the bloom and you know that somebody's walked in it. Now if you're not the first person in there, then you know somebody's walked in it.
I talked about the DNA formation, and Pete Sorensen was the first person in the DNA, and he actually videoed it and there was no mark on the bloom. And I was so convinced by that I actually wrote to John Major, the Prime Minister. I wrote three times saying look I feel I've got videoed evidence that this is a natural phenomenon, not a man-made phenomena, because the bloom was untouched. I just defy Lundberg to do a formation when there's heavy bloom on the crop and not leave marks. You can't do it; you only have to just touch it and the bloom comes off.
The criteria for proving a hoax should be as stiff as for proving a genuine phenomenon. It's no good people saying, "Oh I did that." I could say that. It's not good enough.
SJS: That's a lot of it right now. Put up or shut-up. John Lundberg says he's not making any circles this year because Colin Andrews has got private investigators following him. And Colin says he does have private investigators hired to follow the Circlemakers when I talked with him.
PC: I hate all this; I think we should forget about proof because I don't think it matters.
SJS: But for Colin to get grant money...
PC: People who put themselves out on a limb... they've got to make a living somehow.
They can't just live on nothing. They have to make some money from the phenomena and it's pretty crucial that they're doing things like proving what is genuine and what isn't. And I don't envy them that.
SJS: It's going to be an interesting summer because John has said if Colin is going to have PI guys following them then he won't have anything good this summer.
PC: But we have had good things this summer.
SJS: Most of the researchers I've talked to haven't been impressed with anything so far.
PC: Well, I disagree with them.
SJS: What have you been impressed with?
PC: I was very impressed with the one at the cross roads at East Kennett. The Larvae. The one over the hill.
SJS: What did it look like?
PC: Lots of circles... and I found hundreds of bent nodes. I'd never seen anything like it; there were hundreds of stalks with two and three bents nodes going around.
SJS: You mean not broken stems?
PC: No bent. I've no ax to grind. Some are hoaxed and some aren't. I actually took a botanist in there who was staying with me for the weekend and he just went banannas.... two or three of the grown nodes were bent in the same direction of the circle. How the bloody hell does somebody do that? And there was hundreds of them.
SJS: There wasn't any kind of wind damage that happened after the fact?
PC: No. I'm a farmer; I'm not easily impressed. I don't believe the researchers haven't been impressed. We've had quite a few impressive formations this year. What about the cat's eyes that occurred just recently?
SJS: I haven't talked with Paul Vigay or John Sayer recently.
PC: We had cat's eyes appearing in two of them appeared on successive nights and they were the opposite of each other. One was in standing corn where the other had laid corn. In the second one, there were stems bent halfway up, and you know that's hard to do. If they are left alone, they can grow like that, but not when it's brand new. So we have had good formations this year.
SJS: Every single one I have been in was snapped (stems) at the bottom.
PC: Oh yeah, fair enough.
SJS: Messy jobs. I talked to John Lundberg about them and he said that his were good.
SJS: Alan Smithee understands the social aspect of this and I think that sometimes overshadows the scientific aspect of it.
PC: Maybe it does. I've haven't got a social aspect of it. Well, I suppose I have in a way.
SJS: Well, it's changed your life hasn't it?
PC: Yes, I've met stacks of people that I wouldn't normally meet and the whole area is exploding. Whereas it would have been a very quiet village, it's now a very quiet village for nine months of the year and an incredible place for three months of the year. So yeah, in that sense it's changed my life; it's changed everybody's life in Alton Barnes. I mean Alton Barnes is not the place it used to be. The shops have changed. The shop makes more money in the summer and the pub makes more money in the summer. Of course the area's changed and so have lots of other areas that have crop circles.
SJS: There's a big convergence every summer now.
PC: Yes, which is great. It's good fun.
SJS: What about your crops? Have they changed at all?
PC: It was a couple of years ago when we had the DNA [formation] and nobody had a very good yield of barley. But we did. We had record yields, which is a bit odd, but that's the only thing I remember. How would you know anyway? We get good years and bad years -- how would know if it's got to do with what you're doing to the land or anything else? We're not testing the effects, but it's certainly changed Alton Barnes that's for sure.
SJS: What do you think about people who have had sensations in crop formations?
PC: Some people I would be very dubious about -- especially people who have to justify what they are doing. But [I tend to believe] people who have no reason [to make false claims]. Like, for instance, in 1991 my mother-in-law's friend who is quite elderly expressed an interest in seeing crop circles and she walked all the way down and she couldn't get in... she felt as if there was a brick wall in front of her. That's happened often to people, but when it happens to somebody like that and they have absolutely no reason to start saying stupid things... She came back a week later to try again and she still couldn't get in; it's never happened to her before.
And I've seen people become ill.
SJS: What kind of ill?
PC: Just gone completely white and felt very sick. I had that happen to one friend of mine. And she had to get out. She went white and she looked like she was about to faint. We had to get her out.
SJS: Do a lot of farmers get angry when they have a crop circle?
PC: Yeah, they do.
SJS: Is that because of the loss of crop or because they don't want the hassle?
PC: The hassle. They're crazy really. What they ought to do is set up a store and take the money.
That's what people have done, but I hate it because sometimes they charge two pounds, fifty pence or five pounds, but if you consider it sheer vandalism, then fair enough.
I consider it sheer vandalism if it's hoaxed and no matter what John Lundberg says I don't think there ever is a valid reason for decimating somebody's livelihood. And you know one day I might go to John Lundberg's and smash his garden to pieces and see how he likes it.
SJS: I'd like to see that.
PC: You know I could go and do a crop circle in his garden and say, "Oh I was inspired; I'm a land artist." It doesn't give me the right to go and smash his garden to pieces, does it?
SJS: No, it's really funny that you should say that. It's a very good point.
PC: He wouldn't like it if I did; he'd get terribly upset. I could go draw circles all over his walls and say. "Hey I was inspired by the phenomena." He wouldn't like it and that's what he's doing to me and to other people. I respect the fact that he does feel inspired, but he appears as if he's a bit of a chosen one.
SJS: Leave me alone. I walk on water?
PC: Yeah, a little bit. That's completely wrong.
PC: I don't know what makes crop circles or what they are; I know what they do to people. Because I've seen it year in and year out. They make people talk about subjects that they wouldn't normally talk about, or they might talk about at 2 AM after a good meal and few bottles of wine. It's the weird and the wonderful. I think that's brilliant. What they're doing is very slowly raising people's consciousness. Very slowly and kindly getting people to start thinking about a different subject, so that eventually when whatever is doing this makes itself known to us and we know why we've been having these, it won't come as a huge shock. Had it just arrived 25 years ago without any preparation, we'd have all been terrified. But we've been going on and on year in and year out, loads and loads of people each year start to learn about crop circles slowly to have their consciousness raised.
As my conviction has gotten greater, my need to explain to people has gotten less and now I know it doesn't matter. I don't have to convince people because one day we will all know. I am sure of it. We've just got to wait. Be humble. Be respectful.
An NHNE Special Report
By NHNE SwiftWing Reporter Sherry Stultz